Keep the Electoral College | April 3, letter
Constitution not in stone
The letter writer's admiration for the Founding Fathers for their invention of the Electoral College system ignores the fact that they openly expressed distrust and near-contempt for popular rule.
The Electoral College is not the only example of that mistrust. Note also that the Constitution specifically prohibits the people from electing their senators, a right that was granted over a century later by the 17th Amendment. The Constitution also gave the states free rein to deny the vote to women, blacks (whether slave or free) and even white men if they were not property owners.
As for the Electoral College, the letter writer takes very lightly the fact that there were "only" four elections in our history where the Electoral College nullified the popular vote. But each time, there resulted intense protests and dissension as the supporters of the four "losers" (all Democrats, incidentally) felt cheated by the system.
The Constitution has always needed improvements to extend the democratic ideal. In the 21st century, we should not be locked into 18th-century thinking. Let the next improvement be direct popular vote.
Lewis Lederer, Clearwater
Socialism bails out a big bank | March 29, Blumner column
Crony capitalism at work
Robyn Blumner accurately describes the Fed's printing of money to buy Bear Stearns for JP Morgan as pure, unadulterated socialism. However, Blumner misses the mark when she concludes that free markets are the source of this debacle. What we are witnessing is "crony capitalism" — a corrupted, socialist version of market economics common in America today.
Blumner errs further, stating "government is the best part" of America and "defines who we are and lays out a path for how society will be." Just as socialism is wrong when the government bails out corporations who take bad financial risks, so it is wrong when it is used to bail out or "protect" individuals and plans for a "great society." A big government controlled by an elite, and those who support them, will always benefit at the expense of others who work hard for themselves and their families.
Many examples of big government socialism are failing Americans every day. The list includes: accelerating inflation and devaluation of the dollar as the Fed prints worthless money to bail out crony capitalists and service entitlement programs; a collapsing (and economically unsustainable) Medicare system that is starting to ration care; shortages of physicians for Medicaid patients due to government price-fixing of physician fees; a housing market and Florida economy destroyed by high property taxes; a Florida-run insurance program that after one major hurricane will create an economic catastrophe requiring a taxpayer bailout; state and local government officials double- and triple-dipping into unsustainable taxpayer-funded pension plans; and a professional baseball team (the Rays) arrogantly demanding hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars so it can make a profit.
Contrary to Blumner's assertions, it is in individual liberty and free markets that we find what is best in America.
David McKalip, St. Petersburg
Put brakes on rail project in Orlando
March 31, editorial
Rail project's many benefits
The ongoing controversy surrounding the state funding involved in the CSX freight hub for Central Florida needs to be re-examined in light of the facts rather than the subjectivity and emotionalism that has so far dominated this issue. The facts are:
1. A freight passenger corridor in Central Florida is a uniformly good idea in terms of getting freight trains out of a very populated corridor and into much less populated areas.
2. Rail service for both freight and passenger is environmentally sound, and this project will help develop both forms of transportation.
3. Freight hubs of the type described by CSX have been successful in other areas (Alliance, Texas, San Bernadino and Los Angeles, Calif., and Joliet, Ill., among others). In fact, the city of Los Angeles and the state of California have spent billions of dollars on similar projects with high value results.
4. Much of the spending involved in this project involves highway infrastructure, using money that should be invested in these areas anyway.
5. The recent increases in the estimates of cost for the project are mostly an escalation of the highway portion of the project due to increased material costs.
6. CSX has volunteered to spend several hundred million in support of this project. When is the last time that any company or industry has paid that much in support of surface transportation projects that will have a multiplier impact on the local economy?
7. The project benefits commuters, communities, reduces pollution and greenhouse gases, reduces freight costs to consumers and businesses in Central Florida and will help the Port of Tampa attract more international containers.
8. It is the responsibility of the Legislature to look beyond the "not in my back yard" mentality and do what is right for the people of the state and the region. This type of infrastructure project enhances the competitive position of Florida and the United States in the world economy.
The due diligence or lack of due diligence often cited as a reason to delay this project is a result of an underfunded Florida Department of Transportation, not a faulty analysis.
The sooner this project moves forward, the sooner we all enjoy the benefits.
Thomas L. Finkbiner, Senior Chairman, Intermodal Transportation Institute, University of Denver, Tampa
Marry him! The case for settling for Mr. Good Enough | March 30, commentary
Good Enough not enough
I believe Lori Gottlieb's perspective on settling for Mr. Right is a bit misguided.
Gottlieb claims that 30-plus-year-old unmarried women occasionally feel "panic" and "desperation" about not being married, and Gottlieb also writes that women who do not feel panicked or desperate are either in denial or lying.
I am 35 and unmarried. I consider myself to be attractive, fit and adventurous. When I climbed to the top of Kilimanjaro by myself, I felt sweet satisfaction knowing I did it alone. Sometimes I wake up in the morning giddy and laugh out loud because my life is so amazing. Am I in denial? If so, it feels really, really good.
Gottlieb says women who are divorced are in a better position than someone like herself because they get child support. I hear single mothers all over Pinellas County laughing out loud. I have friends who are trying to decide whether to pay their power bill or their water bill because their children's father didn't pay child support . . . again.
Gottlieb also failed to mention that many people do in fact settle and that our nation has a divorce rate over 50 percent. If these married women are so happy, why are they getting divorced?
Lastly, Gottlieb claims she needs a partner in crime, someone who puts up with her quirks. In my opinion, Gottlieb doesn't need a man, she needs a dog. Life is too short and too hard to settle.
Martha Weber, Dunedin
Divorce epidemic ignored
Ms. Gottlieb surely has a slanted view. Has she not been made aware that settling for Good Enough has been contributing to the divorce epidemic for the last 30 years? I applaud her desire to be a parent — but get a babysitter if you need some freedom and stop lamenting the lost opportunities that may not have been opportunities after all.
Elizabeth Laurino, Indian Rocks Beach